Meet Elena Ferrante, World-Class Peekaboo Artist

I recently learned that the man I had always thought of as “the Beastie Boy with the high-pitched voice” sleeps, with his wife, Tamra Davis, in a four-poster bed beneath a highway of salvaged-wood beams and a bespoke crocheted chandelier in their 1853 Brooklyn town house. Ms. Davis is the author of a cookbook; Michael Diamond is coauthor of a Beastie Boys memoir due out in 2015.

The article about Mike D’s house came in the same week that also saw the publication of a book about only children. It was either a history of or an argument for them; I’m not sure which. The book itself was drowned out by the foofaraw it caused over whether, if you are a writer, it is better to have just one child or to have some other number of children. Among those who weighed in were Jane Smiley, Ayelet Waldman, and Zadie Smith. As far as I know, author Jennifer Weiner has not submitted her own opinion, but I can report that as I type, she was boning up for the evening’s airing of The Bachelorette.

This is the backdrop we readers are up against, and it’s a scene in which I am not above participating, and from which, as a writer, not occasionally I feel left out. (Doesn’t anyone want to know what I think about November versus December babies?) But that is not to say I don’t vacillate between despair and finding it all a little laughable.

Here’s something I feel nothing but certainty about: I want to kiss the ground that Italian novelist Elena Ferrante walks on. But that would require my ever finding her.

Ferrante is the author of six novels, four of which have been translated into English; the best-received one has been Days of Abandonment, the story of a southern Italian woman who is left by her lover of fifteen years. Ferrante is not a recluse so much as she is a wisp of smoke. She leaves no mark but her books. She writes them, sends them to her publisher, and then runs for cover. No author appearances. No conferences. Only the occasional written interview. She has intimated in these rare conversations that she is a mother and she grew up in Naples. She went to university and studied ancient Greek literature. We know not much more than that. She is an enigma of mythical cast.

In Italy, where Ferrante’s fiction is popular, some speculate that “Elena Ferrante” is a pseudonym for a more famous, possibly male writer. But her hard-core fans, this correspondent included, marvel at her dead-on depiction of the female experience and scoff at the possibility of the writer being a man. Her books are too alive, too lacking in sentimentality, too reflective of female truths to have been written by a man.

Her books are equally hard to pin down. They are tales of women in a world that is marred by poverty, violence, and childhood abuse. Her characters are contending with unloving mothers, wandering lovers, friends who shift shape and vanish. Yet they are never pathetic. “I see them not as women who are suffering, but as women who are struggling,” she has written.

The writing style is dry eyed, to the point. Nothing too clever or gimmicky. Just life in southern Italy, one day, usually shitty, after another. As the pages build up, something sneaky happens: The realism takes on a force that pulls you under and doesn’t let you come up for air, even after you’ve started other books (apologies to the two novels I am currently reading).

While her fiction is irrefutably tremendous (more on that in my next column), there is a distinct jolt of excitement that comes from reading Fragments: Elena Ferrante on Writing, Reading, and Anonymity, a very short collection of her professional correspondence. Europa Editions, her American publisher, released it, and it’s full of lines that articulate the magical power of the novel. “I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t,” she writes.

She has no interest in becoming a pop star–style author whose books hang out on a merchandise table. It is her stories, not her, to which she wants people to relate. “I believe that the true reader shouldn’t be confused with the fan,” she writes. “The true reader, I think, searches not for the brittle face of the author in flesh and blood, who makes herself beautiful for the occasion, but the naked physiognomy that remains in every effective word.”

Two years ago, a journalist from Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera asked Ferrante, “In short may we know who you are?” Her reply was crisp, and only slightly withering: “Elena Ferrante. I’ve published six books in twenty years. Isn’t that sufficient?”

While her detractors might find her approach lacking in fun or humor, Ferrante is far from a pill who takes herself too seriously. What she does is the opposite: She takes herself out the picture.


Next Story — The Million-Dollar Kindle Question
Currently Reading - The Million-Dollar Kindle Question

Kindle Covers at Quirky Purple’s Shop on Etsy

The Million-Dollar Kindle Question 

Is there room in this glutted e-reader cover marketplace for one that doesn’t say “I am an idiot”?

Amazon introduced its e-reader, the Kindle, to the market in fall 2007. By the following spring, I was the proud owner of a Kindle DX. My device was the size of a standard-issue tenth-grade biology textbook and weighed at least as much, and that’s before we account for the added bulk of the water-resistant Patagonia case I’d also purchased. The machine’s design could have been sleeker, and its on-screen text sharper, but I enjoyed the futuristic thrill of pressing the Sync button as my subway hurtled across the Manhattan Bridge.

As prices lowered and Kindles proliferated, the novelty wore off. I went back to schlepping around regular books, until about a year ago, when something that I needed to look over for work was sent to me as a PDF and there was only one way to read it if I didn’t want to sit in front of my computer for seven hours.

The reunion of my enormous Kindle and me was a surprisingly happy one. Though it was now roughly four times the size of most of the other e-readers on the subway platform, it still allowed me to go book shopping while I waited for water for my pasta to boil. My machine, at this point older than some of my fellow commuters, resumed its permanent-fixture status in my bag. And then, at the age of six, he died on me. His dormant face, which used to bear an impression of Jane Austen or James Joyce, was now shattered, resembling a busted Etch A Sketch.

She used to be so young and pretty!
What can happen after six years

My replacement Kindle, the Paperwhite, features a light-up screen that allows one to read it while somebody else sleeps nearby. (Note to anyone with an expectant mother in your life: Buy this for her, now.)

I love its streamlined design (I never used all the letter keys on the old model). I love how lightly it sits in my lap while I hold a glass of wine in one hand and browse the store with the other. It has only one problem: It’s naked. And once he detected how much I adored my new Kindle, my two-year-old son took to holding it under the bathtub tap and pretending to turn the knob while shouting, “Wet! Wet!”

Dressing a Kindle is no easy task. There are zillions of options on the market, but they all fall into one of two categories: bleak or twee. There are the drab, monochromatic pebbled-leather numbers that say: “I am about to go to conference room 706-F to give a talk on the history of orthodontic billing systems.” And then there are the cute ones that might as well say: “I am an idiot.”

Kate Spade Kindle covers

Okay, that might be a little harsh, but they tend to have butterflies, or a twee typeface better suited to a T-shirt at Anthropologie. While they would work well for some of the titles in my library, I can’t imagine carrying the thriller I’m excited to read in such a cute package.

Farrin Jacobs, editorial director of Poppy books, an imprint of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, also agonized over the cover for her company-issued Sony e-reader. “I ruled out a conventional case pretty quickly,” she wrote in an e-mail. She decided to go the Etsy route. “Next step was narrowing down all the patterns I liked…. Seriously, I spent hours buying this stupid case.”

She ultimately selected this guy, from a seller in Saint Paul, Minnesota:

Not bad!

She chose well. But unlike Ms. Jacobs, who still favors paper books and uses her e-reader exclusively for the YA manuscript submissions she has to read for work, I needed something that would accommodate my promiscuous, often weird, and sometimes dark taste. A groovy Etsy case would work for the Sheila Heti and Emma Straub books in my library, but what about hard-boiled Scottish detective fiction or this appealing book about a lonely divorced man who lives in a rooming house and is drawn to the turtle tank at the London Zoo? It was unsolvable!

I called Rodrigo Corral, the rock star of contemporary book-jacket design and now the creative director of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Rodrigo made these

I explained my predicament: I needed a Kindle cover that would adapt to my ever-changing reading material. What if, I posited, there were a design that detected what I was reading and displayed a little glyph that hinted at the narrative (a butterfly for Lolita, a ticker of the hero’s ever-growing lifelong word count for The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.)? I don’t have any tattoos, but this coy signal could give my subway riders something to ogle and wonder about.

Mr. Corral did better than that. The design he dreamed up doesn’t just take into account the reading material — it taps both its owner’s and its beholders’ souls. It one-ups the best book-jacket designs; it reflects the words that are being taken in as well as the reader’s mind-set and setting.

Rodrigo Corral’s million-dollar answer

“The spinning wheel suggests something’s about to open; what it is, I do not know. The cover will change based on your mood, the mood of the train car you are in, et cetera,” he said of the sketch he made for me. “That is, if the Kindle is still around.”

Corral’s notion is just that—a brilliant idea that still lives in imagination land. To all the technically inclined readers of Medium, I invite you to break out your tool kits and run with it. Just please, whatever you do, make sure to send me a prototype.

Next Story — The Girl With the Moomintroll Tattoo
Currently Reading - The Girl With the Moomintroll Tattoo

“Dancing Moominvalley” by Tove Jansson

The Girl With the Moomintroll Tattoo 

My summer fling with Tove Jansson

I don’t really mind that it’s been too hot to go to the beach. The sun makes me break out in freckles, and juicy books stand up remarkably well to air-conditioning.

On a recent muggy morning, I found myself craving a spot of Swedish crime fiction. An hour later I was still browsing books online, having deemed The Hypnotist too woo-woo, The Shadow Woman too grizzly, and the new Henning Mankell too un-Nordic (it’s set in East Africa). And that’s how I ended up reading about The True Deceiver, a not-quite-crime book by not-quite-Swede Tove Jansson (she was a Swedish-speaking Finn).

Jansson’s may not be a household name, but she is a big deal in my apartment. She created and wrote the Moomin books, a colorful series for children about the loveable, hippopotamuslike title character and his coterie of peace-loving and excellently named trolls, including Fillyjonk, Snorkmaiden, and that rapscallion Little My. The books have been translated into some thirty-four languages, and at one point the Moomin cartoon appeared in 120 daily newspapers. You can still visit the Moomin Bakery & Café in Japan and buy a Starving Sniff lunch plate.

Moomin first appeared as a sketch on an outhouse wall when Jansson was fifteen. Inspired by the “Moomin troll” her uncle had told her hid in the pantry and preyed on midnight snackers, the prototype didn’t bear much resemblance to the chubby, cute creature that would win over legions of fans.

When Jansson hit her fifties, she lowered the curtain on the Moomin series. By this point, she and her life partner were living on a remote island off the coast of Finland. She began publishing fiction for older readers at the age of fifty-eight.

The True Deceiver, one of her earlier novels for adults, is not a warm and fuzzy tale. It is stark, eerie, and odd, not to mention one of the most special books I have read in a long time. This ice cube of a novel might as well be the negative imprint of Moomin world. The story takes place over the course of a winter in a Nordic hamlet and details a cat-and-mouse game played by two of its residents: Anna Aemelin and Katri Kling. These women share little in common besides their status as outsiders.

One of the characters will sound familiar to fans of Jansson. Anna is an aging author and artist whose “flower bunny” children’s books are a huge international success. “[The villagers] didn’t know Anna Aemelin. Most of them hardly knew what she looked like, since she almost never appeared on the road, but she had become a concept, something of an old landmark that had been in place forever.” Katri is a twentysomething outcast, with yellow eyes that unnerve the townspeople. Her sole friends are her shy, slow brother, Mats, and her dog, which also has yellow eyes, and to which she refuses to give a name.

Anna has something that Katri wants: a large house. Once inhabited by Anna’s parents, it is now called the “rabbit house” by the villagers, due to its shape. “The building actually resembled a large, crouched rabbit—the square front teeth of the white veranda curtains, the silly bay windows under eyebrows of snow, the vigilant ears of the chimneys.” Katri wastes no time insinuating herself in Anna’s life with the aim of usurping it. She stages a break-in and then offers to come live in the house as Anna’s protector. A taut psychological battle ensues that will strike a chord with anyone who has ever had the pleasure of regretting his or her choice in roommates. The two come to deeply irritate each other, yet little by little, they pick up the other’s habits and modes of thinking.

It’s chilling stuff, flecked with emotional truths that caused this reader to wince all too understandingly. At one point, Anna calls Sylvia, an old friend, and they talk about getting together, even though they both know full well that the get-togethers they discuss rarely come to fruition. Anna gets off the phone feeling blue. “It can be sad having a friend you’ve admired too much and seen too rarely and told too many things that you should have kept to yourself. It was only to Sylvia that Anna had talked about her work—without reservation, boasts and cruel disappointments all jumbled together, everything. And now all of it was there with Sylvia, unloaded on her over the years in a dense clot of rash confidences.”

The story culminates in an outcome so unexpected and subtle, I needed to read it twice, and am still chewing on it. Should you want to know more about Jansson, I highly recommend the BBC documentary Moominland Tales, which you can watch here. But, I’m telling you, it’s the book that will help you ride out the heat wave.

I’m still worrying my lip over Emily Cooke’s review of Susan Choi’s new novel, My Education, in the July 21 New York Times Book Review. She outlines the book’s movements, then essentially faults it for not politicizing its subject — a love affair between two women who identify as heterosexual.

She writes:

Two of Choi’s previous books, American Woman (2003) and A Person of Interest (2008), take their inspiration in part from real people — Patty Hearst and Wendy Yoshimura in the first case, Ted Kaczynski and Wen Ho Lee in the second — and these stories too seem oddly unmotivated, as if Choi’s subject matter, like the sex of Regina’s lover, is curiously optional. The high stakes of the real-world conflicts that inform these novels are sometimes replaced, in the fictional versions, by lower stakes. . . My Education shows a similar timidity with the relevant political stakes, perhaps to similarly apolitical effect. Bisexuality has little social consequence, after all, when it’s wrapped in heterosexual identity.

While I haven’t read An Education—or any other book by Choi — I disagree with the idea that a work of fiction that delves into charged territory has a responsibility to underscore the Very Important status of the issues at play. I don’t want my novels to hit me over the head like a skillet.

I respect Cooke’s experience of wanting more from the book, but I’m sure that had Choi set out to write a story with a less nuanced agenda, she would have done so. Fiction, now more than ever, is about slowing down and looking within and around ourselves. Excellent novels or films that take on serious social issues, such as The Flamethrowers or Fruitvale Station, succeed because they come from a place of character. They afford us an intimacy with inner worlds we likely otherwise wouldn’t know much about and an opportunity to formulate our own ideas.

Just as I don’t ask my newspaper articles to drill down to the regrets and secret sufferings of the people who are quoted about cronuts or the rise in gas prices, I don’t ask anything of my novels other than that they, just as Jansson’s work does, operate without clichés and help me see the world afresh.

Next Story — Adventures in Self-Help
Currently Reading - Adventures in Self-Help

by Dave Jordano

Adventures in Self-Help

Can you read your way out of a creative lull?

When a member of my monthly writing group recommended The Artist’s Way, I hummed politely and dragged another baby carrot through the communal pool of hummus. A few days later, while waiting for the B train to pull into my station, I overheard another Artist’s Way endorsement, this one from a beetle of a man, with ear gauges and thick, tattooed forearms. I hummed again, this time a little more naturally.

It turned out that The Artist’s Way and I had more than just the power of coincidence to thank for our intersection. Early in the book, author Julia Cameron gives a few examples of the life-altering turnabouts experienced by the “blocked creatives” who follow her twelve-step program. (My favorite of these cases is that of the businessman who had been writing secretly on the side, and after deciding to seek an honest opinion of his work from a willing professional author, went to a pool hall, where he met a successful author who became his mentor, and then his co-author of a series of best-selling books!) “It’s my experience that we’re much more afraid that there might be a God than we are that there might not be,” Cameron writes. “Incidents like those above happen to us, and yet we dismiss them as sheer coincidence.” Just as each and every one of the other two million plus people (includingPosh Spice and Eva Longoria) who have bought her book were fated to come into Cameron’s orbit, The Artist’s Way and I were Meant To Be.

I recently finished a draft of a novel that I had been working on for three years. The book was harder to write than any of my previous six novels. This was partly because of life changes. (I was about to launch into the challenge of writing while balancing a newborn on my lap when I looked down and saw my toddler son grinning up at me with concealer caked all over his left ear.)

Surely the difficulty of writing the book also had to do with the nature of the story itself. It’s dark and steamy, with two elaborate underworlds and a centuries-long history of their entanglement. Don’t get me wrong — if I didn’t love working on it, I wouldn’t have bothered. But a funny thing happened when I sent the pages off to my favorite reader: I didn’t want to go and dance on top of a table. I didn’t even tweet-brag. The worry was too heavy. What was I was supposed to do with myself now? Write something else, I supposed. But the prospect of starting a new Word document and typing the words “Chapter One” seemed about as realistic as holding my breath for an hour — even with the help of this crafty writers’ aid.

Though it’s primarily writers who use it, Cameron’s book is meant for creative people of all ilks. She doesn’t offer plot ideas or advice about querying agents. Her approach aims to shake up the reader and rouse her inner spirit. Then the art will follow. Everyone is a great artist, she insists. But almost everyone is out of touch with herself. “Making our art, we make artful lives. Making our art, we meet firsthand the art of our Creator,” she writes.

“Fledgling artists may be encouraged to be art teachers or to specialize in crafts with the handicapped,” writes Cameron, who goes on to suggest that many should-be fiction writers wimp out and work at newspapers and should-be filmmakers instead become critics. (Cameron, who has had articles in Rolling Stone, has written screenplays herself and was married briefly to Martin Scorsese.)

Cameron tells us she is a recovering alcoholic who sobered up at age thirty. In addition to modeling her twelve-week program for artists and writers after the famous twelve steps we’ve all seen in Elisabeth Shue movies, she repurposes the “one day at a time” mantra by urging her readers to take their recovering creativity one page (well, three pages) at a time.

The cornerstone of her program is “The Morning Pages,” a daily ritual of writing three pages of whatever comes to mind. These jottings are not meant to be read by others, or even reviewed by their creator (or even, I’d wager, by The Creator). This stream-of-consciousness exercise is to exorcise whatever demons have been poisoning your mind with self-doubt. “You are creatively blocked. Just as doing Hatha Yoga stretches alters consciousness when all you are doing is stretching, doing the exercises in this book alters consciousness when ‘all’ you are doing is writing and playing,” she writes. “Wipe the mirror, swipe at the blur you have kept between you and your real self.”

It’s not hard to see why people keep coming her way. Her manner is fascinating. She is the charming lunatic you end up seated next to at a dinner party. Cameron constantly challenges whatever judgment I’ve just made about her: Is this woman who was allergic to electricity a drip — or is she a genius? She peppers her sage-at-the-lectern rhetoric with whimsical poetry. “Creativity is an act of faith, and we must be faithful to that faith, willing to share it to help others, and to be helped in return. Outside my window, out over the Hudson, a very large bird is soaring. I have seen this bird for days now, sailing, sailing on the fierce winds that are the slipstream around the island.”

When she brought up the mandatory weekly “Artist’s Date” — two hours a week “committed to nurturing your inner artist” — I was ready to be forced to whip up a brilliant short story. It turned out that the Artist’s Date is a two-hour period during which you take yourself on a walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood or go to a puppeteering class. By treating ourselves to new experiences, she argues, we get to know ourselves, and discover our self-worth.

There are a few other exercises that come closer to something you might encounter in writing class. “Pick a color and write a few sentences describing yourself in the first person. ‘I am silver, high-tech and ethereal, the color of dreams and accomplishment, the color of half-light and in-between, I feel serene.’ Or: ‘I am red. I am passion, sunset, anger, blood, wine and roses, armies, murder, lust and apples.’ ” Another: “List five things you are not allowed to do: kill your boss, scream in church, go outside naked, make a scene, quit your job. Now do that thing on paper.” I suppose this might lead to New Yorker-accepted material? Ultimately, though, her book is a guide to living like an artist, not creating like one.

Upon finishing Cameron’s book, I wasn’t sure what to feel. I still hadn’t written a first chapter — or, for that matter, a first word — but I did set up a babysitter and take myself to the movies. On the subway ride home, I started to toy with a new idea, and feel that twitch of excitement that makes all the craziness worth it.

I even have a working title: “I am turquoise.”

Next Story — The Book Club Crisis
Currently Reading - The Book Club Crisis

Two women outside a London bookshop Keystone/Getty Images 

The Book Club Crisis

How to dampen a passion

It happens every time. The ice cream truck resumes its creepy tinkle, and somebody in the group realizes that we have managed to go yet another entire winter without convening. An e-mail goes around about a resurrection. Are we up for it? One by one, the answers dart in. Sounds good. Yes! Double yes!! Book club shall not die.

Then the call for titles, which opens up all the questions that have been plaguing our book club ever since its inception nearly a decade ago. What kind of books do we want to read? And, while we’re thinking big, just who are we? We need to get some rules in place. Maybe that’s why we tend to fall apart; we lack purpose! We could be the book club that focuses on nineteenth-century morality tales. The one that requires a story not be set in America. Or what about if we stuck to developing countries? Somebody more practical-minded suggests we focus on books that are short, at least while we get our bearings. Short wins.

The nominees are submitted, the list circulated. I don’t see any titles that I recognize. I remain silent, like the restaurant diner who shifts in her seat while somebody else samples the newly opened bottle of wine and gives the waiter the verdict. But everybody in the e-mail chain wants to sit back and wait for further direction. We lapse into silence.

Here we go again, flakily sliding into delinquency. To look at our group, you would have little reason to suspect we’re anything but a diligent pack. It’s a fellowship meant to launch a thousand girl crushes—a crew of I-don’t-know-how-she-does-it women who run companies and collectively see every play, film and Little League game in the greater metropolitan area. (Until fairly recently, when I became a mother and stopped hosting book club at my parents’ apartment, I was the honorary kid.)

While I’m waiting to hear what we’ll be reading next, I send a note to the group saying that I’m going to write my next column about book clubs. I fantasize about a piece in which I share the ultimate dos and don’ts. Are there types of books that lend themselves to good discussion? Is it okay to show up if you haven’t read the book? Is there an ideal food to serve? Could everyone please send me their ideas? More silence.

I resort to Facebook, where I pose my question to my 687 friends, almost all of them book obsessed: “I’m writing my next column. What do you guys love and hate about your book club?” Nothing.

Horrified, I beg a few überbookish friends to post a comment and get the conversation started. One of them writes something very funny on my wall, only to e-mail me and admit she’s actually never belonged to a book club. “I think truly I’ve resisted b/c I don’t want to read what others tell me to read, but what I want to read,” she said. Another put it this way in her response: “I’m never part of one! That’s the worst thing I do. I am ONLY interested in my opinion and have accepted this about myself.”

It’s time I do the same. Here goes: I am not a book club person.

I love the people in my book club. But I’m not that interested in discussing books I don’t click with. And I find it disheartening to talk about books I love with people who don’t also happen to love them. I am content to talk about all of these things with the one person who sees all my points: myself.

Reading, for me, is an activity that is both solitary and deeply energizing. It keeps me going. I don’t need to belong to a club in order to ensure that I remain a devotee of the written word. No postmortem conversation is ever as enthralling as the firsthand experience of getting swept away by a story. The only kind of book clubs that make sense to me would be the cookbook clubs that are gaining ground; and even then, I’d rather just show up and have dinner with a lively group of people than be expected to compare notes on an author’s understanding of the vagaries of oven performance.

That said, I have no intention of quitting book club. I’ll take any excuse to see the people in my group — even if it’s to discuss a novel that only three out of ten of us had voted for, and that I had lost sleep to in order to finish in time. I come for the chatter and catching up that follows the book-deliberation portion. (The cheese is nice too.)

What I’m not crazy about is turning reading into a requirement-cum-parlor game. Any living-room discussion about a book, no matter how intelligent the discourse is, can strain under the weight of diligence and rigidity.

Book clubs, at least the ones where you’re supposed to go around the room, each person in turn saying whether he thought Uncle Ted was a charming character, or if she had seen that double murder coming from page fifty-two, might not be my bag. Which is weird. I don’t just love reading; I love googling an author or book I’m newly obsessed with and learning everything I can about a story’s history. And Lord knows I have nothing against screw-top wine.

If we can all agree that book club is a ruse for ten women who already read plenty of unassigned material to have an excuse to see one another en masse, couldn’t I convince my group to set up the necessary babysitters and come over for a dinner where nobody will put anyone on the spot about Eudora Welty’s treatment of time? Why not skip the homework, keep the camaraderie?

The other night I ran into the friend who wrote that pity post on my Facebook page. She reads more than pretty much anybody I know, and she told me she’s been reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — a book that’s at the top of my list. “You didn’t know? I’ve been tweeting about it nonstop,” she said.

“I guess I wasn’t paying attention,” I told her. “I’ve been busy tweeting about reading Elena Ferrante. She’s out of this world.”

She nodded, bit her cocktail straw. It was a sad little moment. Until an idea struck.

“Hey,” I said. “Would you consider starting a book club with me?”

“But we hate book clubs.”

“It will be different,” I said. “We don’t have to read anything in advance. No forced discussion of any kind. We can just show up and open a bottle of wine and tell each other about whatever we’re reading and what we’re excited to read next. And then we can gossip our heads off. It will be the bookish person’s unbookish book club.”

“I could get into that,” she said.

My original book club is working on sorting out a plan.

I’ll let you know which of the two meets next.

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